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Driving Licence Statistics 2021

Parked driver looking frustrated with his head in his hands

We have put together some data regarding driving licence statistics in the UK. The majority of the data has been sourced from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) These statistics are true as of October 2021.

The data below does not represent the number of active drivers in the UK; it is data regarding the number of licence holders. Of course, some of these holders may not currently own or drive a car. It is also worth noting that certain driving licence categories can be issued to 15-year-olds up to two months before their 16th birthday.

General Statistics

There were a total of 40,935,384 full licenses held in October 2021, and 9,126,243 provisional licenses held.

According to data we gathered and published in September 2020, there were 40,798,523 full licenses and 8,596,217 provisional licenses at that point.

This is a 0.3% increase in full licenses compared to September 2020, and a 6% increase in provisional licenses being held.

Young drivers licence statistics

Below is a table with the licences owned by people aged 15 to 21.

Provisional Licences- Male Provisional Licences- Female Provisional- Total
15 600 389 989
16 49,884 39,089 88,973
17 185,049 177,342 362,391
18 202,608 197,659 400,267
19 170,548 167,850 338,398
20 154,871 153,794 308,665
21 145,576 145,569 291,045
Age Full Licence – Male Full Licence – Female Full – Total
15 0 0 0
16 632 72 704
17 20,448 14,009 34,457
18 128,556 67,935 146,427
19 128,556 115,591 244,147
20 163,432 147,888 311,320
21 187,963 170,742 358,705

There are very few people aged 16 and under that have acquired a full driving licence, the numbers are also for provisional licence holders.

There is a 4,794% increase in full licenses between 16 and 17 and a 325% increase between 17 and 18. Furthermore, between the ages of 16 and 21, there was a total increase of 50,852%.

You can see that the numbers of provisional licence holders from ages 17 to 21, between male and females, are very similar. When it comes to full licence then that difference widens, as many more males own a full licence than females.

In terms of provisional licences, the ages of 17 to 21 are where you will see the highest numbers. Beyond the age of 21, more and more people will successfully change their provisional licence into a full licence, so the numbers for provisional licences begin to decrease as the age goes up.

Statistics for driving licences from ages 22 to 30

The total number of people aged 22 with a provisional licence is 278,239, which is a decrease from the data for young drivers above. This number continues to decrease at every age above this.

As you can see there is a steady decrease in the number of provisional licence holders as age increases. It is interesting to note that there is almost no difference between male and females. The gap just begins to widen from the ages of 28 to 31 as there is a slightly higher number of female provisional licence holders.

Between the ages of 22 and 31, there was a 28% decrease in the number of provisional licenses, whilst there was a 71% increase in the number of full licenses.

Statistically speaking, while the gap is not huge there is a greater number of males in general that own a full licence. This could explain why the number of provisional licences is higher in females.


Full licences held in the UK

This second graph shows that, unlike the numbers for provisional licences held, the number of full licences held increases as one ages.

The total number of full licences held for 22-year-olds is 402,879, whereas the total number of full licences held for 30-year-olds is 688,215, a huge increase.

Another thing to note from this graph is that the gap between male and female full licence holders begins to widen.

Statistics for licences held by 32 to 70-year-olds.

You may notice from the data below that most licences belong in the 32 to 69 age range. Specifically, the most popular age currently for holding a full licence is 55.

There is a small drop in the number of full licenses held around the 41-year mark, for both males and females. Looking at the numbers, from 41 years old, the total number of full driving licenses held was 770,578. This then gradually dropped until 44 years old, when there were 692,260. That’s a drop of around 10%. At 45 years old, the numbers begin to increase again.

The number of full licenses then starts to drop permanently at age 58. There were 848,946 full licenses held by people who were 58 years old. This drop gradually; there were only 444,614 70-year-old individuals who had full licenses, a drop of 48%.

There has also been a huge decline in the number of people in this age range who own a provisional licence.

Provisional licences held in the UK

The same pattern emerges again for male and female provisional licence holders. They dip in numbers in the 40s range and rise again in the 50s before dropping sharply.

This shows that gender appears to not affect the pattern. Despite the same pattern there is still a larger number of females that own a provisional licence. There are only 2,286 70-year-olds in the UK that own a provisional licence: 1,123 males and 1,163 females.

Full licences held in the UK

Again, although there is a gap in numbers between males and females with full licences, the pattern between them is almost the same.

Regarding 70-year-olds, 444,614 have full licences in the UK. That is more than half the 55-year-olds who own a full licence.

Driving licence statistics in the over 70’s

We will now look at driving licence statistics from ages 71 to 108. The reason for the 108 is that there are two people aged 108 who own a full licence in the UK. This is the oldest licence holder. 108 is the only age where there are more female owners of the full licence than males, and there are two holders.

The oldest age for owning a provisional licence is 107, as there’s one holder.

Provisional Licences

You might have expected it, but the number of provisional licence holders above the age of 71 decreased dramatically. Overall, for both males and females between these ages, there are only 16,297 provisional licence holders.

There is a clear similarity between males and females owning full licenses, and despite a few spikes, there is a dramatic drop in the number of both full and provisional licenses held in this age range. The oldest age anyone owns a full license in the U.K. is 108; there are two people this age who hold full licenses.

In total, 5,237,115 people aged 71 to 108 hold full licenses; in September 2020, there were 4,988,402, an increase of around 5%.